Appy for SFPC Summer 2024!

In the midst of co-occurring political and climate crises, we are learning in community, building a world to hold our collective summer dreams 。° As the season changes, we offer five classes to question, explore, decode and transform the narratives that frame our idyllic summer for an expansive reimagining of linguistic instruction, photography, natural language processing, musical experience, games, and more!

Apply Now until April 12, 2024.


Human-scale Natural Language Processing with Allison Parrish, Ilona Brand, Yadira Sánchez

Human-scale Natural Language Processing, re-establishes computation as a tool in the radical writer’s toolbox. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a subfield of AI that drives pervasive technologies like spell check, search, bots and content moderation. This multi-billion dollar, energy-intensive industry increasingly dictates the shape of everyday language while perpetuating harmful biases. We will practice "human-scale" natural language processing by forgoing pre-existing datasets and models in favor of communally-written texts. This includes exercises in which participants invent new textual categories and hand-tag each other's writing. Participants will learn the basics of text processing, analysis and generation in Python, including parsing, regular expressions, Markov chains and vector similarity.  Many exercises will be performed using analog media as well (for example, cut-ups, free-writes, etc.). In addition, we will prioritize technical approaches that function well on low-end hardware rather than carbon-intensive computation. The goal of the class is for participants to learn more about themselves and their classmates through these communal acts of computational reading and re-writing.

Imperfect Pictures with Molly Soda, Kayla Drzewicki, Will Allstetter

How often do you try to take a picture of the moon only to realize it doesn’t look how you imagined? How many people are uploading their photos of the moon to the Internet at this very moment? Considering the ubiquity of screen images in everyday life, ,Imperfect Pictures, examines our approaches to them: linking, clicking, saving, discarding, editing, dumping, forgetting. Participants will slow down to consider the role of photography outside of a “hi-res” context. We will look at and create ugly pictures, spam, compressed images, screenshots, facetuned selfies, .gifs, stock photography, boring images, useless images, memes, and badly performing social photographs.

Worlds in Conversation: Tabletop Storytelling Games with Everest Pipkin, Caro Asercion, Rufus "Weaver" Walker

What compels us to play within fictional worlds? How do we construct meaningful cultural, social, and natural environments to learn about our past, present, and future? ,Worlds In Conversation: Tabletop Storytelling Games, considers the theoretical and practical underpinnings of worldbuilding through the lens of tabletop role-playing games. Through a survey of existing work in the field, hands-on play, and independent and collaborative experimentation, this class offers an understanding of why–and how–we tell stories set in worlds other than our own.

Instructional Intimacies: Rules and Parameters for Actions that Would Constitute a Piece with Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Adina Glickstein

Instructional Intimacies: Rules and Parameters for Actions that Would Constitute a Piece, is an invitation to encounter, consider, and create artistic works that enliven questions of authorship and instruction through artistic uses of language and technology.

We will study conceptual art and the “author” in the age of networked, decentralized, and augmented interventions. Classes include discussions and lectures about readings and conceptual artists from the 1970s onwards to explore transformations offered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing.

We move beyond traditional narrative forms to consider how we can wield linguistic instruction and technology to reimagine the world around us. We invite willful accidents in archives, experimental encounters in formal settings, and vexed mutations between private and public address. Participants will be guided to create a prospectus for a speculative project which may take the form of objects, publications, actions, performances, new media, or uncategorizable forms. 

The Musical Web with Tommy Martinez, Maxine de las Pozas

With much of our listening mediated by streaming platforms, social networks, and virtual environments, it is exciting to imagine possible new alternatives that these tools open for composing and distributing music online. But how can these web technologies be used to shape a modern sound practice? In this 10-week class, participants will explore this question by building musical experiences that draw on live web APIs, networking, and generative algorithms in the web browser.

Sessions will combine discussion, sharing, technical exercises, and hands-on lab time. Approximately half of the courses will focus on tech agnostic composition and sound design exercises. These lessons will include sampling and digital synthesis techniques, as well as tactics in improvisational performance. Participants will work each week to build their own web-based sound pieces while collectively imagining what new forms music may take on the world wide web.

The course will primarily use the Web Audio API and the Max/RNBO and p5.js sound libraries though other tools will also be explored. While some experience working with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is required, we welcome all experience levels. If you have any doubts about required skills coming into the class, reach out to us before applying.